2007 WHCA JOURNALISM AWARDS
The Merriman Smith Award
The Merriman Smith Award ($2,500 each) recognizes presidential news coverage under deadline pressure, with separate awards for print and broadcast journalists.
Winner--print: David Sanger, The New York Times
This deadline piece by David Sanger about North Korea's testing of a nuclear device provided terrific context on a breaking news story. Sanger's reporting was complete and multi-dimensional. He gave important background about the economic, political, and scientific impact of the test. The story broke late on a Sunday night. Sanger managed to have a page one story Monday morning that gave the readers all they needed to know to understand what this historic event meant, including challenges for the Bush administration.
Winner--broadcast: Martha Raddatz, ABC News
Martha Raddatz, pictured above, broke the story about the death of Al-Qaeda leader, Abu-Musab Al-Zarqawi in the middle of the night. She continued to report the story all day, expanding the piece as she learned more from her sources. The story that aired on ABC World News gave viewers the context they needed to fully understand what happened. Through the masterful use of graphics and animation, this complicated story came alive for the viewer.
It demonstrates how television can make a complex story compelling.
THE ALDO BECKMAN AWARD
The Aldo Beckman Award ($1,000) recognizes repeated excellence in White House coverage, with a single award for either a print or broadcast journalist.
Winner: Ken Walsh, US News & World Report
Ken Walsh was honored for his 2006 coverage of the White House, including an in-depth look at Vice President Dick Cheney's role in the Bush administration and his views on executive power.
Honorable Mention: Tom DeFrank, New York Daily News
For nearly 40 years, Tom DeFrank has covered the Presidency with distinction. DeFrank is being honored for his reporting in 2006, which includes three exclusive stories: one about the growing tension between close associates of the two Presidents Bush, another about plans for the Bush Presidential library in Dallas, and the third a poignant account of President Gerald R. Ford's final interview before his death.
The Edgar A. Poe Award
The Edgar A. Poe Award ($2,500) recognizes excellence in coverage of news of national or regional significance, with a single award for either a print or broadcast journalist.
First Prize: Joan Ryan, The San Francisco Chronicle
First prize goes to Joan Ryan of the San Francisco Chronicle for her powerful account of the difficult life adjustments facing two veterans who returned from Iraq with limbs missing. Ryan's reporting and writing were so vivid that the judges felt we were living with the two men, yet her stories were disciplined and straightfoward, not maudlin.
Honorable Mention: Corine Hegland, National Journal
Honorable Mention goes to Corine Hegland of the National Journal for her excellent writing and reporting about prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
Honorable Mentions: Rob Jordan and Emily Witt, Miami New Times
Two honorable mentions, Rob Jordan and Emiliy Witt of the Miami New Times. Jordan for his wrenching accounts of the daily lives of illegal immigrants and Cubans in Miami; Witt for meticulous reporting about the lives of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo, and about the insurmountable odds facing those who seek a fair trial from federal immigration judges.
For more than a year Peter Doherty of ABC News was in charge of the total briefing room renovation on behalf of the networks and the entire press corps. Charlie Gibson, ABC's evening news anchor, came down from New York that evening to present a silver Tiffany's bowl to Peter in thanks from the WHCA. The presentation was supposed to be a surprise, but we learned that Peter wasn't planning to attend the dinner because it was his son's 15th birthday. Finally we (and his son) had to tell him about the award so he would show up for the ceremony!
Amie Steele, editor of the school paper, leads the audience in a cheer for Virginia Tech."Let's go, Hokies!"
. VIEW THE SLIDESHOW
You can also watch a video account of the dinner on C-SPAN, which is hosting an archive of WHCA events. Coverage includes awards and scholarship presentations, historical footage, entertainment, and some great "people watching."
David Sanger accepting the 2007 Merriman Smith award for print journalism.